We welcome the Government’s R&D People and Culture Strategy.

The strategy draws on our 2014 report on the culture of scientific research, and pledges to build on this work and that of others to create a positive, inclusive, and respectful research culture.

Throughout 2014, we undertook a series of engagement activities that aimed to inform and advance debate about the ethical consequences of the culture of scientific research, This included engagement events at research organisations around the UK and a survey of nearly 1,000 researchers.

We found that the hypercompetitive culture of academic science, and the way in which science and scientists are assessed, can have a negative impact on the production of high quality, ethical, and valuable science.

We made a number of suggestions for action for funding bodies, research institutions, publishers and editors, professional bodies, and individual researchers to ensure the culture of research supports good research practice and production of high quality science.

The R&D People and Culture Strategy sets out a range of important actions in the areas of people, culture and talent. Highlights include:

  • create a Good Practice Exchange to develop, test, evaluate, and highlight ideas to improve culture sourced from the community.
  • drive adoption of the ‘Résumé for Researchers’ narrative CV which broadens the range of experiences and accomplishments that are recognised.
  • asking UKRI to undertake a review of how they use expert peer review.
  • initiating a review of the impacts of the approach to funding under the full economic cost regime for research grants, with a focus on the pressures it may create for research organisations.
  • developing a new approach to supporting public engagement with research and innovation, through stakeholder engagement and evidence and insight gathering.

Catherine Joynson, Assistant Director, who led on our work on research culture in 2014, said:

“Since we first highlighted that the culture of research in the UK can, in some cases, disincentivise the production of high quality research, we have been greatly impressed by the work that organisations such as the Royal Society and Wellcome have carried out to push for change in the R&D sector.

This new strategy represents a strong statement from Government that it recognises that research culture is shaped by a wide range of interconnecting factor and that all those involved in the practice of research play a role in shaping its culture. Any kind of culture change is always difficult and slow, but this is a significant step in that journey.”